Paul Lowe, Who Taught At Taft Elementary School in Riverside, Arrested On Suspicion of Sexually Assaulting A Minor
RIVERSIDE COUNTY, CALIFORNIA (November 17, 2021) – A former teacher, youth sports coach and children’s book author identified as Paul Lowe has been arrested after a former student said that he was sexually abused by him over 20 years ago at Taft Elementary School in Riverside.
Riverside County police officials are saying that the arrest was made on November 9th. Paul Edward Lowe, 61, was charged with 14 counts of sexual assault on a child, according to a press release by the Riverside Police Department.
Allegations against Paul Lowe surfaced in September of 2021 prior to the arrest. Some of the assaults allegedly took place away from campus, but some of them took place at Taft Elementary School.
This arrest comes after a previous arrest and conviction for sexual assault against a minor. The former teacher taught at Taft Elementary School from 1997 to 2002, but resigned due to his arrest and conviction of sexual assault.
The suspect also worked for the YMCA and served as an AYSO youth soccer coach in Los Angeles County. Detectives believe that there may be other victims, but they have not yet come forward.
Paul Lowe is currently being held on a $5 million bail at the Robert Presley Detention Center. It is important to remember that anyone accused of a crime is entitled to due process and the presumption of innocence prior to a trial.
Liability In Sexual Assaults At Taft Elementary School In Riverside
Sexual harassment is unfortunately much more common than people realize. According to one report from K-12 Academics, sexual harassment occurs at every stage of education and nearly 80% of students experience some form of sexual harassment or bullying. Sexual assaults by teachers or authority figures are very common as well. Nearly 7% of children between grades 8 and 11 have reported having physical sexual contact with an adult, most often from a teacher or coach. Conduct ranged from unwanted touching to sexual intercourse. Students with disabilities are at the greatest risk of being sexually assaulted. There are a number of signs that parents should look out for that may point to sexual assault by a school official.
· Students may experience unexplained nightmares or sleep problems.
· Students may experience a loss of appetite or refuse to eat.
· Students may experience sudden mood swings or withdrawal.
· Students may desire to no longer be hugged or touched.
Teachers and schools have a legal responsibility to report inappropriate sexual conduct to the police or the local county welfare department. Failure to report inappropriate sexual conduct is a crime that can result in fines and jail time. Pursuant to California Penal Code 11166(c), “A mandated reporter who fails to report an incident of known or reasonably suspected child abuse or neglect as required by this section is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months confinement in a county jail or by a fine of one thousand dollars ($1,000) or by both that imprisonment and fine. If a mandated reporter intentionally conceals the mandated reporter’s failure to report an incident known by the mandated reporter to be abuse or severe neglect under this section, the failure to report is a continuing offense until an agency specified in Section 11165.9 discovers the offense.” Sadly, many school officials are reluctant to report abuse out of fear of retaliation or “ruining someone’s life.”
In addition to criminal sanctions for failure to report abuse, a school district could be liable if a child under their supervision is abused by school officials. Generally speaking, school districts in California are vicariously liable for the conduct of their employees. Under California Government Code section 815.2, a public entity such as a school district can be liable for an act or omission of an employee of the public entity working within the scope of his or her employment. Courts in California have long held that school officials must constantly monitor the children entrusted to them. As outlined in Taylor v. Oakland Scavenger Co., 17 Cal. 2d 594 [110 P.2d 1044], “It is the duty of the school authorities to supervise at all times the conduct of the children on the school grounds and to enforce those rules and regulations necessary to their protection.” To that end, a school district could be liable for the failure of school officers to use ordinary care when monitoring children.
In addition to their general duty to supervise students, schools must also protect students from foreseeable sources of harm from third parties. Consider, for example, the landmark case of Dailey v. Los Angeles Unified Sch. Dist. , 2 Cal.3d 741. A 16-year-old died on school grounds after a fight broke out among students during recess. The teacher who was supposed to monitor the students instead took a lunch break. Parents of the 16-year-old child that died brought a wrongful death claim against the school district. Evidence was presented at trial that the mere presence of the teacher could have deterred the lethal fight that broke out. The court found that it was reasonably foreseeable that fighting could occur among adolescents when a teacher is not around to monitor their behavior. Despite the fact that the other student’s misconduct was the cause of the student’s death, this did not relieve the school district of its liability.
A school district could also be liable for the assault of a child facilitated by a school’s negligent hiring or training of a school employee. Schools have a legal obligation to do a background check on teachers and other people employed by the school. Failure to do such a background check could result in the school hiring someone with a criminal record of abuse. As outlined in Virginia G. v. ABC Unified School District (1993) 15 Cal.App.4th 1848, schools can be liable for the sexual assault of a child by a teacher if supervisors knew (or should have known) about that teacher’s history of sexual misconduct with students. California Code of Regulations, title 5, §§5551 and 5552 requires that a school district and administrators properly train staff. School administrators must ensure that rules are being followed by school employees and that said employees have the requisite knowledge to follow those rules. In all, there are a number of steps that can be taken to prevent student sexual abuse.
· Schools should properly and thoroughly vet prospective candidates.
· The Department’s School Safety Commission should include steps on the prevention of sexual abuse by employees.
· Sexual misconduct should be immediately reported to the proper authorities.
· Surveys should periodically be conducted on the prevalence of sexual misconduct in schools.
· Parents should be aware of sudden and unexpected changes in their child’s mood or behavior.
Any person that has been sexually abused by a school official may be able to seek justice through both a criminal as well as a civil claim. Sexual crimes should be reported as early as possible. However, many victims don’t want to come forward out of a sense of guilt or shame. This is understandable. But sexual assault victims should be aware that they are not responsible for the crimes against them. Reporting abusive teachers can also help protect other students from potentially going through the same thing. A personal injury attorney can examine the unique facts of your case in confidence and let you know what your legal options are.
Investigating Sexual Assaults At Taft Elementary School In Riverside
We at the Carrillo Law Firm, LLP extend our best wishes and sympathies to all of the people who may have been victims of Paul Edward Lowe. Any person that may have more information about these crimes should reach out to authorities. It is our sincere hope that school district officials will coordinate with law enforcement and take measures in order to prevent additional instances of sexual assault involving their students.
This incident also raises a number of safety concerns. Were officials at Taft Elementary School aware of what was going on prior to the suspect’s arrest? How many instances of abuse have there been? Could these tragedies have been prevented? School districts must do everything in their power to stop sexual abuse. But far too often, they are only looking out for their own reputations and fail to take sufficient measures to protect vulnerable children.